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POETRY

Catherine Candano

The Space Between Words is a Pause

For Mike Chua
 


In my memory, there are three types 
of pauses, each inaudible, a space in 
between words, which has become ours.
 
This is the catalogue:
 
1.
 
Between breaths...
when you held the packet of air waiting 
for me to decide, and I couldn’t decide 
if now was the best time to blow the 
candles out—till the match struck itself,
lit itself on fire onto the birthday candle 
wick, and you exhaled for me, in your         
off-key tone, you softly sang the opening 
lines of ‘Happy Birthday.’
 
2.
 
Between breaths...
when my eyes widened and the salt-tinged 
bead of sweat, slowly made its way down 
from my brow, cupping the curve of my 
face, resting gently on my upper lip; my 
lower lip numbed from the heat off            
the chilli-seed oil from yours.
 
3. 
 
Between breaths...
When I leaned in, you turned my neck in 
your palm, the grip of your fingers barely 
touching the ghost heat between us; 
I can almost taste the warm air you 
tentatively left behind.
 
In my memory, each pause is ascribed 
to you, such that between words, new 
syllables of space form into
our very own world’s lingua franca.
 
The space between words is a poem
waiting for its home.

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